In The Shadow Of Dr. King’s Passing...
MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state your full name?
THE WITNESS: Jesse Louis Jackson.
MR. KUNSTLER: Mr. Jackson, what is your position?
THE WITNESS: I am a Christian minister employed by the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference.
MR. KUNSTLER: Reverend Jackson, in what capacity are you employed
by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference?
THE WITNESS: As director of its economic arm, Operation Breadbasket.
MR. KUNSTLER: Could you state for the jury what Operation Breadbasket
THE WITNESS: Operation Breadbasket is an economic movement that
is designed to be the antidote to the racist domination of our
black community by engaging in boycotts and consumer withdrawals
from the companies that have an imperialistic relationship with
our community. That is, the companies control the capital and
blacks are merely reduced to consumers. So far, we’ve been
able to get about five thousand jobs directly, perhaps ten thousand
indirectly, but more importantly, we’ve been able to develop
black institutions as a result of this movement.
MR. KUNSTLER: By the way, who is president of the Southern Christian
THE WITNESS: Dr. Ralph Abernathy. . .
MR. KUNSTLER: Reverend Jackson, I call your attention to the third
week in August, 1968. Did you have an occasion to see Rennie Davis?
THE WITNESS: Yes. At my house here in Chicago.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did you have a conversation at that time with Mr.
THE WITNESS: Yes, we had three or four issues to discuss. One
was the relationship between the assassination of Dr. King and
some things that we wanted to happen during the Convention. Rennie
really wanted to know what was on my mind about the Convention
and I told him that the reason we had not pursued relentlessly
through any legal process who killed Dr. King was, that we thought
that what killed him was an atmosphere that had been created because
the nation was so split over the war question, and somehow if
the Democratic Convention really became consistent with democracy,
perhaps something could come in that Convention that would indicate
a real sorrow for his assassination as opposed to just a holiday.
I related to Rennie that the shoot to kill order had come out,
and therefore we had heard rumblings that if blacks participated
in a big demonstration, that we would be shot down. We had talked
with some of the policemen, and we saw some shotgun shells that
had overkill pellets in them, so some of us who were afraid that
some of the younger blacks might get involved in riots had begun
to hold some workshops on the South and West sides. So Rennie
told me that he saw the danger, but what kind of decision was
I going to make? I told him we felt that if blacks marched downtown
there would be a massacre, and it wasn’t that we were afraid
to go, but we still were hung up because we had some dissenting
delegations among us from Mississippi and Georgia. We wanted to
support them. So Rennie said that perhaps the only thing that
could do, rather than my being caught in so much ambiguity, was
that he was trying to get a legal permit through the city, and
asked me what was my advice in case he didn’t get the legal
permit. I told him that I hoped he got the legal permit, but even
if he didn’t that it would be consistent with Dr. King’s
teaching that we then got a moral permit. Rather than getting
permission from the city, we’d have to get a commission
from our consciences and just have an extralegal demonstration,
that probably blacks should participate, that if blacks got whipped
nobody would pay attention, it would just be history. But if whites
got whipped, it would make good news: that is, it would make the
newspapers. Rennie told me he didn’t understand what I was
saying. I told him that I thought long haired whites was the new
style nigger, and if he didn’t think they would get whipped,
to try it. We finally decided that we would explain to our people
what the demonstration was about, that we would hope the permits
would come through, that Dr. Abernathy was going to come back
to the black community with the buggy and the mules. But we were
afraid of the tremendous police build up in our community, so
we felt too helpless to just put our heads in a meat grinder,
and therefore I would spend my time working in the black community
telling blacks not to get involved, and I would hope that those
who were involved would appreciate that we were with them, but
we just couldn’t be there physically because chaos was anticipated
as opposed to peace. This was the substance of that conversation
as I recall it.
MR. KUNSTLER: I have no further questions.
THE COURT: Is there any cross-examination of this witness?
MR. FORAN: Reverend Jackson, did you call Mr. Davis or did Mr.
Davis call you?
THE WITNESS: He called me, then I called him back.
MR. FORAN: That is all.
THE COURT: You may go, thank you.
THE COURT: The marshals will exclude everyone that they have seen
From transcripts for the Trial of the Chicago 7, late January,
Kunstler, who died in 1995, was a longtime West Shokan resident